NO REBATE: Michelle and Wayne Connell, pictured outside their Gympie home, contemplate the fight ahead.
NO REBATE: Michelle and Wayne Connell, pictured outside their Gympie home, contemplate the fight ahead. Renee Albrecht

Help donate to Gympie cancer sufferer Michelle who needs $2500 a week to stay alive

UPDATE:  

PEOPLE wanting to help Gympie cancer sufferer Michelle Connell can made a donation to the website Sick or Treat - Helping Michelle, her husband Wayne Connell says.  

Mr and Mrs Connell face a $2500 a week fight to keep Michelle alive with the only drug that seems to work on her illness.  

The cancer, Langerhans cell histiocytosis, is a white blood cell disorder which affects her memory and causes excruciating pain, as well as being seriously life threatening.  

The drug, vemurafenib is not normally prescribed for Michelle's illness.   "It's usually used to treat metastatic melanoma.  

"They found out that what I have has the same gene mutation, so they decided to try it.   "It's not normally prescribed for what I have, but it works," Michelle said.  

"The drug is not on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, so we can't get a rebate," Wayne said.  

At more than $130,000 a year for Michelle to stay alive, the Connells freely admit they are in trouble and need help.   

EARLIER:

MICHELLE Connell desperately needs a change of luck.

The odds of anyone contracting her rare cancer are 300,000 to one.

And the impossible cost of the only drug that helps means she will need at least that much good luck to survive.

At 5.5 times the cost of gold per gram, the only good news is that it works.

That in itself is something she describes as "miraculous".

The cancer, Langerhans cell histiocytosis, is a white blood cell disorder which affects her memory and causes excruciating pain, as well as being seriously life threatening.

"No hockey for me anymore," she said.

Recently enough a versatile amateur athlete, she also played touch and is well known in Gympie sporting circles.

"We're selling assets, superannuation and so forth," her husband Wayne said at their beautifully restored Church St home, the first built in the street and once the property of the Shambler family, who owned the first hardware store in Gympie.

But even selling the house will not help for long.

The drug is called vemurafenib and at the dosage she requires, it costs more than $2500 a week to stay alive. It is a lot more than Wayne, a painting contractor, can possibly earn.

"It's usually used to treat metastatic melanoma," Michelle said.

"They found that what I have has the same gene mutation, so they decided to try it.

"It's not normally prescribed for what I have, but it works. The drug is not on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, so we can't get a rebate," Wayne said.

At more than $130,000 a year for Michelle to stay alive, the Connells freely admit they are in trouble and need help.

"The doctors are trying to get a trial started, but virtually, we're paying for the trial," Michelle said.

Her illness is so acute that she recently spent seven days in Emergency in Brisbane and nearly died.

"It was about four years ago that it first started and the diagnosis was just under two years ago.

"I've only been on the drug for a few months. I feel good now. It's brought me back to life," she said.

"One in 300,000. I'm just lucky."

Gympie Times


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